Tag Archives: pears

Pear Gorgonzola and Walnut Rustic Tart


I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution person.  I could blame it on the fact that I often don’t finish what I’ve begun, and to some extent that may be true, but know it’s more about being someone who constantly takes stock, reflects, compulsively evaluates, over-analyzes, sifts, sorts, and thrives on general hair-splitting.  It’s endless, so to some degree  I welcome January 1 each year to think in a more focused way — at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself of.

It’s really more about being able to sigh for the first time after a busy holiday season and quietly celebrate that I don’t have to cook anything too involved if I’m not in the mood.  That for the first day in quite some time, mental lists, menus to plan, groceries to purchase, and errands to run aren’t interrupting a quiet moment, or causing alarm should something important be forgotten.  It’s exhausting, and each year I vow to live through the holidays more graciously, more collected, and more as someone who enjoys and participates rather than orchestrates and delivers.

And so I’m reflecting on our holidays today and remembering some of the delicious food we shared with those we know and love.  It always allows us to pause long enough to enjoy one another’s company, to laugh, clink our glasses in a toast or three, and then smile at the quiet that comes after everyone has picked up their forks and begun to eat.

This beautiful and delicious Pear Gorgonzola and Walnut Rustic Tart was made on Christmas Eve in celebration of a special couple, recently engaged who happen to have a kitchen always filled with music, and often, dancing.  Here’s to you Lisa and Steve!

This year, there will be more music and dancing in my kitchen.  I promise myself.

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Vols-au-vent: Spiced Poached Pears with Hazelnut Sabayon

Vol-au-vent with Hazelnut Sabayon and  Spiced Poached Pears
It was only a matter of time that I’d have to revisit the task of making pate feuilletee again.  My first run-in with the multi-layered French pastry dough was also my first Daring Baker challenge over two years ago.  The result was truly something that might qualify as an organic building material considering the sheer weight of it and lack of any discernible layers.  It was awful.  But when I saw this month’s  challenge, I knew I’d be ready to tackle it again.  After all, it’s been over two years, so my trauma has subsided and I’ve been more preoccupied by what kind of dessert I’d create with the puff pastry we were asked to make.

It’s officially Fall, so pears are plentiful here.  Nuts always make me think of Fall as well, but what kind, and what to fill the pastry with?  Leafing through  The French Laundry Cookbook, I found the perfect recipe and decided that it would be the perfect way to welcome in my favorite season.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!”

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Clafoutis Two Ways: Seckel Pears and Blueberries

Seckel Pear Clafouti

I’ve mentioned before that I have a minor problem with purchasing too much produce when I make my trips to the market. It’s not so much that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, but more a need to have endless possibilities to experiment with when I am ready to cook. This is completely ridiculous, of course. I haven’t had as much time to cook lately, so getting organized for the possibility has stuffed our fridge beyond its limits with bags of arugula and baby spinach left to rest on top of milk cartons, grapes and berries stuffed into the deli drawer, and the vegetable bin so full I can barely close it. Thankfully the long weekend has given me some time to use the ingredients and not a moment too soon because a few items went from being a salad contender to a shoe-in for something baked.

Such was the cute little bunch of seckel pears I couldn’t resist when I saw them at the market. The smallest variety of pear and the only developed in the U.S., they’re very sweet. Like all pears, they’re best picked when mature, but left to ripen off the tree to prevent graininess. Although I enjoy the mild flavor of most pears, I enjoy them while still firm and the seckels I purchased, having sat for days in a plastic bag were well past that point.

Because I usually end up eating pears raw, I haven’t made that many dishes with pears that involve cooking. Something quick and easy was in order, so a clafoutis seemed to be the best choice. Traditionally a French dessert made with cherries, clafoutis is made with a batter somewhat like that of pancake, but with more egg. The consistency of the cooked custard is not unlike that of crepes, or a German pancake and quite good.

Take a look around your kitchen for fruit that has seen better days and experiment a bit to end up with something just as nice on the breakfast table as for dessert.

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